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Old Feb 1, 2013, 12:14 PM   #1
dma550
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thin app - web client in app clothing? Is this ok/feasible?

Hey guys

Considering an app for a client. They need app store visibility, so no web app for them. It's accounting based, a customer portal to some accounting functions.

I am wondering if Apple is ok with me writing an app that is in essence a sandboxed web browser, with some ios native authentication, followed by serving up pages via an embedded web browser of sorts.

if this isnt allowed, I will of course pursue web service architecture to get this done, but I think it'd be pretty easy considering most of their back end architecture can be easily represented over http.

Thoughts?

Thanks!
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Old Feb 1, 2013, 02:47 PM   #2
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You may or may not get rejected.

According to the App Store Review Guidelines:
Quote:
2.12 Apps that are not very useful, unique, are simply web sites bundled as Apps, or do not provide any lasting entertainment value may be rejected
However, Facebook was largely a web-based app, before they rebuilt it from the ground up using native iOS elements (version 5.0). So, something like that can be approved. I guess the key is to make sure there is something the users can get through the iOS app that they couldn't get by simply visiting your website.
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Old Feb 2, 2013, 02:35 AM   #3
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They also test apps for some usability when there is no network connection available (full Airplane mode). Unless your app locally caches all the basic required pages, it won't pass that test and will be rejected.
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Old Feb 17, 2013, 06:29 PM   #4
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eek, thanks guys.

The customer really wants this, I shudder to think of having to cache their entire site.

One thing I wonder about is how bank/financial institutions do this when their app is really just an extension of their site.
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Old Feb 17, 2013, 07:04 PM   #5
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eek, thanks guys.

The customer really wants this, I shudder to think of having to cache their entire site.

One thing I wonder about is how bank/financial institutions do this when their app is really just an extension of their site.
Probably a matter of common sense and discretion.

I use my banking app about three times weekly,
and never use their web site in iOS or on a Mac/PC.

Also, my telco App provides absolutely no functionality whatsoever if it
is not connected to the internet over cellular.
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Old Feb 17, 2013, 07:13 PM   #6
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I think I might pursue some of the other thoughts, like maybe ad-hoc or b2b distro, though I think with this customer that may be tough.

This customer is a VERY large landscaping supply house, and customers are either the general public or landscapers (about 3K customers). Customers would be able to access their accounts, provide payments, adjust profiles, see recent orders and download affiliated docs for their purchases. I think that it could be done nicely as an asp.net web app with an IOS viewer, but I think that ultimately it won't be very exciting for apple (it would be free)

I would love to talk to someone who develops apps with a small b2bor b2c audience on this...
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Old Feb 17, 2013, 07:25 PM   #7
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Look through the apple APIs and see if there any that would make things easier to use. Would it be nice to scan the UPC of a product to reorder? Would folks like to select addresses from their contacts for shipping? Would GPS help them organize their usage by client to help in their billing?

Apple wants to see ways the hardware or OS can help the app be more than a simple skin. Most of the site can still be HTML if you show some value add.
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Old Feb 17, 2013, 07:31 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by AlanShutko View Post
Look through the apple APIs and see if there any that would make things easier to use. Would it be nice to scan the UPC of a product to reorder? Would folks like to select addresses from their contacts for shipping? Would GPS help them organize their usage by client to help in their billing?

Apple wants to see ways the hardware or OS can help the app be more than a simple skin. Most of the site can still be HTML if you show some value add.
Was thinking if Financial Info, does a native app give you access to data protection of cached data that a web app would not?
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Old Feb 17, 2013, 07:37 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by AlanShutko View Post
Look through the apple APIs and see if there any that would make things easier to use. Would it be nice to scan the UPC of a product to reorder? Would folks like to select addresses from their contacts for shipping? Would GPS help them organize their usage by client to help in their billing?

Apple wants to see ways the hardware or OS can help the app be more than a simple skin. Most of the site can still be HTML if you show some value add.
Cool, thanks guys. The balance I am walking is that there is a whole HUGE back end infrastructure that needs to be built, which is my main area of expertise. I need to draw orders and customer info from MS Great Plains Accounting, an ERP system, a few other systems that handle dispatch and delivery, etc. All of this stuff would be centralized through XML web services, which I then intended to call and manipulate via the front end. I do this approach with many systems, mostly those little Symbol ruggedized handheld PC's for walk-about inventory and order taking.

The issue is that I can likely implement the back end and a thin front end within budget, but if I need to dance with apple and implement things like an accelerometer sensor to see if people accidentally fall down, or some sort of gps tracking, which don't have value to my customer, we're sunk

Because this is a walled garden approach I don't think that Apple will care that 3K people may download it. I am peeking at the internal distribution methods now, but I might just recommend the web app.
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 09:12 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dma550 View Post
...but I might just recommend the web app.
Earlier you said:
Quote:
Originally Posted by dma550 View Post
They need app store visibility, so no web app for them.
Was that not so much a 'need' as a 'want'?
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 09:55 AM   #11
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Just a question... how visible is your app just by it being in the app store? How much more will people find your app because they used the iOS app store search functionality instead of a Google web search?

I don't know the answer, but it seems like it might be worth finding out before going through the trouble of dressing up a web app to look like an iOS app.
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 12:21 PM   #12
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Earlier you said:

Was that not so much a 'need' as a 'want'?
Good point. If they want to pay for it, and want it, it's an automatic need if I want to do business with them!

I think they are aware of that many of their customers could use the app store, but may not do the "add to home screen" from the safari menu.

----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArtOfWarfare View Post
Just a question... how visible is your app just by it being in the app store? How much more will people find your app because they used the iOS app store search functionality instead of a Google web search?

I don't know the answer, but it seems like it might be worth finding out before going through the trouble of dressing up a web app to look like an iOS app.
True, I think they are hung up on it being in the app store. I believe they need a customer portal first, THEN a mobile version.
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